2018: Sharing The Gift Of Travel

Over the past years, I’ve traveled solo exploring most of Southeast Asia. Every once in a while though, I get this idea that it could be a lot more fun if bring friends or even family with me. Don’t get me wrong, I still love solo travel above all, but I guess sharing the gift of travel is a good idea.

My 2018 was filled with travels shared with friends and family.But these trips didn’t just happened this year alone, its preparation even dates back a year earlier. Budgeting for several people  for a couple of trips was quite a daunting task. It was quite scary assuring them that the amount I ask them to save would be enough for the entirety of the trips.

The first trip I had was on January. This trip was particularly the hardest. It was a fourteen day Indochina trip starting in Vietnam. Not everyone can join the trip at the same time. We began the trip with four friends going to Ho Chi Minh City. Two of them bailed out last minute, leaving me with two companions. Before we head out to Phnom Penh, three friends joined us; then another three followed when e were in Siem Reap. Three people later went ahead to Bangkok after a day in Siem Reap, then two friends joined us when we arrived in Bangkok. It was a roller coaster ride indeed! A logistics nightmare, but it was fun!

 

March is a good time for Taipei, one of my pet cities in the world. I love the cool weather during spring and how beautiful the Cherry Blossoms are. A trip with your friends wouldn’t be complete unless someone backs out. Yep one backed out, so in with my best friend’s aunt. I’d say that the tour turned out good, I feel like everyone felt they got their money’s worth that they even sat down one of the scheduled tours. I stayed in Taipei for a couple more days after they left. I wanted to enjoy the city like how I always enjoyed it to be. The city is just full of life and class.

 

After a few months of staying at my base, my feet itched for some travel. Easiest place to get to? Baguio! It has been a while since I’ve been there so I was really excited about visiting it again. It was just a bus ride away after all. I revisited all the usual tourist spots like the Burnham Park, Mines View Park and the Baguio Cathedral. I wanted to check them out again since it has been a few years since I’ve been to the city.

The highlight of my travel year was on November. It was a surprise for my dad. All he knew was that we are going to Viet Nam, he was surprised later on that we are actually backpacking across Vietnam, Cambodia and Thailand! He only figured everything out when we checked out of our AirBnb in Ho Chi Minh city and rode a bus to Phnom Penh, Dad also met my girlfriend for the first time, who is Cambodian and is based in the capital city. Our journey ended in Bangkok where shopping was really good. We had loads of fun and dad really enjoyed biking around Siem Reap. As for me it was awesome having traveled with dad knowing that he hates bus rides, but still manage to make it through. He actually didn’t got dizzy at all!

Don’t get the idea though that this year was just all good. This year was also my most challenging, as one of my projects went down the drain. It wasn’t even my fault, I was just there to assist. But then everything snowballing that caused difficulties for me in planning my travels for 2019. It was traumatic, but I learned a lot in the process.

Travel was abundant for me on 2018. I am grateful that I was able to share my passion with friends. It was tiring but fulfilling showing them

My Aussie Fascination

I’ve been fascinated by the land down under ever since I was a kid. I mean those cutie patootie Koalas and Kangaroos are just so adorable. Blame it on network TV cartoons! Hahaha. But seriously, Australia seems to be a world of its own, full of adventure spread over a vast land of mystery.

Now that I’ve already transitioned to being a Digital Nomad, I now have the freedom to travel as much as I want. That is as long as I have access to the internet. I’m pretty sure thought that it won’t be a problem in Australia.

Over the last couple of months, I’ve been toying with the idea of flying to Australia but I am still at the very early stages of planning my trip. to tell you the truth though, I am very excited about it.

Planning The Trip

I started searching for the cheapest flights first. Yep this is how I start my trips. To save, you have to be flexible. Thank goodness for sites like Kayak  I can easily find cheap flights to the land down under. Yeah, there are other flight booking websites, but honestly it’s kinda hard to trust those “other sites”. I may be a cheap traveler but of course, I try to stay smart as well and stick to industry trusted websites.

The List

Cliche as it may sound, I try to make a list. I write down the places that I want to see. This list eventually becomes my itinerary. I include what are their opening hours, fees if any and what are the best times to visit them.

Here are the places on my list that I plan to see, most of them are in Melbourne. I thought of seeing Australia one city at a time for now and I think Melbourne is a great place to start.

Opera House

Built at the end of the 1950’s, this architectural marvel caught my fascination with its Sails like roof that seem to face the Sydney Harbor ready voyage across the seas. But my fascination with the Opera House does not end there. The building, unknown to many is one of the few auditoriums around the world that was built by Bolt, Beranek & Newman; The same company that constructed the acoustics of the PhilAm Theater in the Philippines, The United Nations Assembly Hall and the Lincoln Center to name some. I want to experience and see how similar or different each projects are.

Sidney Bridge

Yep the bridge and I am not even just talking about at just staring at it. I want to climb it! I saw a few videos on YouTube where people climb the support structure of the bridge. It looks so much fun…. ermmm… unless I get some panic attack! Hahaha! Well… one thing remains, I still want to try it. Maybe at night though spend a couple of hours just admiring the bridge it self and tell my self, good job! You just overcame another challenge for your self!

Coffee Shops

I remember Erwan Heussaf said on his latest overnight video, what the world knows as next wave coffee shops are just but the ordinary coffee shops Melbournian have always known. I am a coffee enthusiast if not, an addict. I love tasting coffee and experience how different they are from one place to another. It tells a one’s city’s character and culture by how people treat its coffee. Do I sound a coffee addict already? But yes that is very true for the most part, that is why I wouldn’t want to miss tasting Melbourne’s coffees.

The Botanic Gardens

Green spaces are something that Filipinos who live in the metropoilis aren’t well versed of. This is something that I don’t experience much due to poor urban planning. That is why every time I visit another country, I take time visiting green spaces like the Royal Botanic Gardens. Lame as it may sound but seeing beautiful green spaces for me is enough reason to travel.

I know there’s just so much more to see and do in Melbourne. But hey, I am just starting out. I hear from lots of long time travelers that Australia is a great country to backpack around like the Indochina region; I have no doubts about it. I feel that starting out in this city will give me a good feel of how I can navigate around the continent and meet fellow travelers who are starting out their journey.

Exploring a new country always gives me that certain high that I cannot explain. May be its because of the randomness or unpredictability of what could happen next. Beyond the highs that you anticipate, you should never skip through planning specially if your are travelling on a budget. Sure things may not always go as planned but having that certain direction can always lead you to great adventures!

 

Yes Pho: Baguio’s Best Vietnamese Restaurant

Traveling up north to the Pine City of the Philippines, Baguio, caught me by surprise! I’ve been craving for a Bahn Mi for weeks already looking for that authentic Vietnamese taste. But it’s kinda hard to find something close to what I remember tasting in Saigon.

On my first day in my quick escape to the Summer Capital of the Philippines, I went out walking from my hostel to get some cash from the machine. I walked all the way back to the terminal, but the ATM machine wasn’t working. I walked farther and found another bank and got some cash. I saw this small restaurant just right beside the bank. It says, Yes Pho… Hmmm… I was intrigued by the name… can it be something I have been longing for?

As I stepped inside the shop, this old familiar smell welcomed me. I don’t know what it is but it was something I remember smelling back in Vietnam. They just opened that morning so they are still stewing and brewing things up, it was perfect time for me. The shop is hinted with Vietnamese culture with the hats reminiscent of the southeast Asian country.

I asked if they have a Bahn Mi but said that it wasn’t available yet. Turns out later that it was actually their first day offering the said sandwich.

My spring roll was made fresh when I ordered it. I asked for a shrimp and chicken spring roll. I sat outside to savor the fresh…(fresh daw oh) and cool Baguio air. My food was made pretty quick and was served after a few minutes..

It was served on a plate along with a peanut sauce. Honestly, I haven’t tried this dish with peanut sauce so this is something familiar but is also something new for me. 3

Each spring roll was carefully crafted. It looked full with the vermicelli. I thought that it was gonna be just like those cheap spring rolls I tried in Saigon. But then I took my first bite. I was surprised that inside the bed of vermicelli were more vegetables who’s flavors played on my palate. It was a refreshing surprise.

The chicken fresh spring roll was good but I liked the shrimp best. It was so refreshing and it totally transported me back to my memories of those small side walk stalls in Ho Chi Minh and possibly better.

 

Like a true Vietnamese spring roll it was beautifully presented. Just look at that, why wouldn’t you crave for more of that! I dipped the roll on to the peanut sauce and it was a revelation. It gave me a different experience yet familiar. The I thought that most Filipinos would love the peanut sauce but being someone who is better acquainted with the vinaigrette dip I think I’d stick to that. I asked if they have that kind of dip and they did, stupid me I didn’t ask before taking a bite.

 

Ho Chi Minh or Saigon can be thousands of miles away and can be costly to come back every so soon. Or maybe you could be someone who have been wanting to experience Viet Nam but have not had the chance because of time or money. Well, I highly suggest that you try out this restaurant in Baguio city and take that journey to back to Saigon through your palate. With that, I can dare say that this is one of the must try restaurants in Baguio city.

Visa Free Entry For Pinoys OFFICIALLY EXTENDED UP TO JULY 2019

Sources from Taipei have announced that the visa free entry for Filipinos have been extended by the government of the Republic of China (Taiwan).

Although the extension has no definite coverage yet, it was reported that the Taiwanese officials said that this is a result of Filipinos good behavior while in Taiwan. Filipinos are advised to continue following the provisions of the visa free entry policy by not overstaying and getting involved specially in organized crimes.

Reports also say that the official announcement of the extension could possibly be after the dragon boat festivals.

This is a developing story and will be updated as soon as we gather more information.

==============

Update:

Taiwan has officially announced through Minister Chang Ching-sen that Philippine passport holders  can enter Taiwan up to Jul 31, 2019 because of their good standing as visitors and while causing good impact to the Taiwan tourism industry.

Mikey Bustos also became Taipei’s ambassador for tourism and is currently working with the Taipei government in promoting the city.

>>>>>Read more of about TAIWAN here<<<<<

watch our Taipei Travel Vlogs on YouTube!


Featured image used courtesy of Jirka Matousek

Travel Insurance For Pinoys: Why, How and Where To Get It

Filipinos are becoming more and more open and active in traveling. Be it domestic or international travel, Filipinos seem to have been bitten by the travel bug over the past few years. We’ve learned how to get the best value flights by chasing seat sales and doing DIY trips with the help of Facebook groups members.

It’s great and all that we’ve all opened up our selves to going out of our comfort zones. We’ve gone to search for adventures, new sights and new tastes to experience. But what most all of us fail to discuss and work on are the risks that comes along with it. Yes, everything may seem to turn out the way we intend it to be as we plan but what we fail to realize is that there’s a reason why they are called Risks.

Many would just dismiss the things that may go wrong while on the road. Some of us would  not even want to think about it, thinking that if don’t think about it, it wouldn’t happen. Some of us would just avoid thinking about these possibilities deeming it as too morbid or being too negative. “I don’t wanna attract bad vibes” some would say.

But all of these in reality will not matter if something goes wrong on the road. Then you regret not preparing for it.

As much as we like being positive and all, we need to acknowledge that there are things that we don’t have control of. You might lose your passport or money. You could unknowingly eat bad or mishandled food in a nice fancy restaurant. Political unrest and you need to be evacuated. It could also be small things such as losing or having your luggage delayed and you don’t have anything to wear! Fortunately, you don’t have to worry about what to do or spending so much money when uncontrollable things like these happen.

For a small amount, you can always buy your travel insurance either online or through a physical agent. Like literally a few hundred pesos can SAVE YOUR LIFE!

I Already Have Travel Insurance With My Plane Ticket

That’s great! Like all insurance policy though, always read the small prints carefully. I use to purchase those insurance as well in case that they lose my luggage. But then when I read their policy and compared it with stand alone travel insurance it turns out that I will be having limited coverage with lots of exclusions.

When I discovered this, I stopped buying insurance at all. I didn’t think that it was a need at all. But then when I started taking friends into budget tours. I saw things on a different perspective. I was in charge of more than a dozen of people’s lives, who thinks that they are in good hands. But then what if something happens to them or to our flight or anything that could put them in danger. Will I be able to handle the financial burden? This is when I started looking into stand alone travel insurance.  See sometimes you have to look outside of the situation to get a better understanding.

Types of Travel Insurance

As far as my experience goes I’ve encountered two types of travel insurance. The first one is called the reimbursement plan. These plans most if not every time are way cheaper. These kind of insurance will cover you only after you pay for the expenses needed. Say you got into an accident and you needed to be taken to the hospital, you will have to pay for your bill first in this case. Once you settled your bill, you have to send in the paperwork like the receipts to you insurance provider. The insurer will then reimburse all of your expenses that they deem covered by their policy.

travel insurance

The second type of insurance, the one that I prefer is the Cashless type. The Cashless type covers your needs real time. This means that if you are in a situation that is covered by your insurance policy, such as hospitalization for example, you do not need to shell out any money anymore. All you need to do is have the paperwork done and report the situation to your insurer and you should be good. I find this more convenient.

What To Look For In A Travel Insurance

When I started taking travel insurance coverage seriously, I always look into a few things. First of all and most important for me is its Medical coverage. I want to make sure that when I get sick, get my self into an accident or any unforeseen event is that I wouldn’t have to worry about paying the bill. I want to know that everything will be taken cared of while I get better.

The next important coverage factor I look into is their repatriation policy. If I were needed to be sent back to my country because of say, inability to continue with my journey this coverage will allow me to go back to my country without a problem. They should be able to cover my tickets and all the necessary facilities needed to take me back home. This clause also is useful if there are natural disasters or sudden political unrest where you need to evacuate from the country. The important thing to remember here is that you should have the ability to go back to your country if you need to in unforeseen cases.

Other clauses you should be check out are coverage in cases of lost of money, theft, lost of passport, flight cancellation, flight delayed and lost luggage. It is crucial that check the most important things for you. Those things that you absolutely want to make sure that you wont have to worry about in case it happens.

How To Get Insured

traditionally, you can call and see a licensed insurance agent. If it is your first time and not that familiar with insurance jargons or you need someone to explain the clauses included in your policy it would be better to call on someone who knows about it.

If you have done this several times or are in need of an insurance immediately, you can turn to the internet to actually buy a policy in as little as five minutes.

There are a few insurance companies that offer insurance purchase online. Some of them are Axa, World Nomads and Standard Insurance. I use standard simple because it is affordable and covers what I need. The good thing is that there are more and more insurance companies that are starting to roll out their business available online.

I hope this post has given you some light on why you should get travel insurance specially when you go out of your own country. We know that we plan for the best trips of our lives but there are times that things just happen no matter how much we prepare to avoid it. If not at least I hope I sparked something in your mind to start thinking about

 

5 Easy Steps How To Start A Travel Fund

Vietnam, Singapore or maybe Thailand has been infesting your Facebook feed and you have been dying of seeing those places. You really want to travel and experience them and have been day dreaming about it already. BUT! You don’t have the money. Like zilch, your payroll ATM is crying and you don’t even have money to buy coffee. Well here’s the thing. That exactly may be the reason holding you from traveling and seeing places. You don’t have a travel fund.

There are a lot of people at this situation. Most of the time, they rant about not having enough money or not having the money at all. Then you look at their situation. Single, no dependents and living this awesome lifestyle. See that last part, that could be the problem, you may be spending your money at the wrong places. Okay, okay, so you are thrifty but it just doesn’t add up and you still need more money. Maybe you are just not aware of the opportunities you have to earn more.

Here are some steps you can take to start creating that travel fund to make your backpacking dreams come true!

Side Jobs or Overtime

One of the most common recourse of people trying to save money. I have to say that it is just logical. If you work more you earn more! While I was still in the corporate world, I would work as much over time as I could to fund my travels. It was an easy source of income for me. The best part of it was that it didn’t feel so much of a burden since I was highly motivated by my impending travels.

Selling stuff over the internet is also a good way to get extra income. If you don’t have money to buy your merchandise, you ask friends who already are selling if you can sell their stuff at a small commission! You didn’t just earn extra that way but also helped a friend. You can also revisit your belongings and see what are the things that you no longer use, need or just want to dispose off. It may not need too much effort to post it online, then just tag friends or share it on your social media accounts!

You can also do freelance jobs with the skills that you have or maybe that hobby that you are really good at. You will never know that people are actually needing you service until you start telling people. Think of it, doing something you actually love an earning from it. Sounds like a win-win situation to me.

Don’t Eat Out Much 

That occasional fast food or dine out with friends can be a little expensive. Honestly I think eating out is not a necessity. You can always bring your own food and eat with your friends at the office pantry! If you really can’t help your self eating out, try minimizing it by organizing lunch sessions once or twice a week with office mates. Every one can bring in different food choices that everyone can share! Not only this creates a better social atmosphere in the office it also allows you to take control more of your eating habits if you are aiming to living a healthier lifestyle.

Simple Friday Night Outs

Weekend parties can be really expensive specially when you are drunk already. LOL. Why not go out with friends over coffee and plan about your travels? Maybe go to museum and learn something new. There are lots of things that you can do without spending so much. If you really need that dose of alcohol, try inviting friends to a house party. It will absolutely save you a lot! Whenever I get the urge to drink, my main motivation to save money is the thought of “why get drunk locally when you can get drunk somewhere better!” Hahahaha…. I know it sounds crazy but it does work for me and it does sound like a good idea right?

Write Down Your Finances

It may sound basic, but how many of us really does this? Writing down your expenses, how much you have, how much money you have and will come will give you some sort of realization of your financial status. It gives some sort of motivation to see how my travel fund has grown from my starting amount. It gives this sense of accomplishment when you reach your goal or you are on track, while it also gives you some sense of being vigilant to your spending if you see that you are somewhat off-course.

Create A Travel Fund Account 

Give your travel fund a home. Saving in a piggy bank could be good, but putting your money in a bank will give you more flexibility. Imagine, you were scrolling on your Facebook news feed then you see this post “Flash Seat Sale”. You scramble and try to book a flight only to be disappointed that you can only pay via credit or debit card. Sucks right? There are lots of banking options out there that lets you keep an account without a maintaining balance. I personally used a PSBANK Prepaid Mastercard to start building my travel fund. after some time I saved so much that even after traveling I’d still have spare money. At that point I opened a savings account already for more security features. Saving your money into such accounts also lets you track your expenses as each transaction gets logged online!

source: PSBank.com.ph

These are just a few of the things that I do to save money to travel. Reality check though, we all have our own priorities and travel may not be one of them for some of us. On the other hand, it isn’t also bad to treat your self once in a while or maybe this could be your reward to your self for a long time now. Travel may not be for everyone, I mean there are people who need to prioritize food over this privilege. But if you have the chance to give your self the opportunity to see the world, go ahead and grab it. I can assure you that it will open your eyes, heart and mind more ways than you think is  possible.

How to Make the Most of Your Time in Bangkok

Bangkok is a popular destination and often the first port of call for anyone who’s visiting Thailand for the first time.

The capital city never stops, with busy streets, constant traffic and famous nightlife all combining to create that unique Bangkok atmosphere. Continue reading

FunNow: Taiwan’s Underrated Travel App

Sometimes you just start a plan then it just rolls like a snowball and gets a little too big. Anyone who can relate to that? Hahahaha! Well that is what happened on my last trip to Taipei.  I invited a couple of friends to go visit my favorite city out of the Philippines, then another friend new about it and told another friend who then told another friend! Us three became twelve people by the time of our trip! It was overwhelming.

I usually take the bus from Taoyuan International Airport to Taipei Main station and just walk from there to Ximen where I usually stay. Easy right? Yeah if you are small group…. laggingf twelve people with you in an ungodly hour may not be a good experience for your friends. So I thought that I had to get small van to transport us from the airport to the hotel. I looked at the usual sites like KKDay and Klook but they seem to be too expensive as per my backpacker instincts. I always plan ahead of time but the stinginess in me just kicked in and I just cant bear to pay that much.

I dug deeper into the depths of Google and checked on more options. I then stumbled upon a saving grace, MyFunNow.com. The site also has an App that makes the booking experience a lot better! Being a budget traveler I always make sure that I compare my options to get the one that offers the best value!

My Options

I also checked on other popular travel sites but they seem to add so much fees after their published rates that makes it pricey. They also  ask to book at least a week ahead while FunNow only needs at least 8 Hours to fix your van transfer and sometimes even upon arrival! Long story short, I decided to go with FunNow and booked two vans to shuttle all 12 of us from the Airport to our Hostel.

How To Book 

  1. Download the FunNow App on from the Google Play Store or IOS Store
  2. Search for your desired service (Ex. Transfer Service)
    funnow
    myfunnowmyfunnow
  3. Click on Pick Time and choose your desired pickup time.
  4. Click on Book and choose additional services (Optional)
    myfunnow
  5. Add your flight details and your hotel’s address.
  6. Proceed to the payment page and key in your payment details to finalize your booking
  7. Confirmation will show up on your bookings page in the app while you will also receive a confirmation email containing your driver’s contact information.
  8. You will then be fetched at the arrival area of the terminal that you specified.
  9. They will wait for you for 60 minutes for free from the time that you specify.
  10. If you need assistance they also have 12 hour customer support from 9:00-13:00 via Line @myfunnow application.
    Whats app :+852 96882148 (9:00- 23:00).

The vans that we used smelled good and had GPS so we knew that we were going to the right place. The drivers also were attentive to their driving and drove on a speed that felt safe but not slow. What I love most about the drivers is that they are the jolliest of all people even if it was 3 in the morning! Having so much fun with people from traveling in such a short time is a great way to start an awesome trip. Because of that I think people should know more about FunNow. Not only your save money from activities and services, but you also get the best experience out of it.  So next time I visit Taiwan or cities like Hong Kong I will surely check out FunNow’s offerings to save money !

Travel Vloggers You Should Follow 2017

YouTube has taken some sort of place in our instincts that when we try to search or learn something new we turn to YouTube almost instantaneously. I for one usually try to find inspiration in YouTube when I want to travel. It’s a very good place to check out what to do, what to expect and find out the how to’s of what you need to know when traveling. Let’s just say…. it’s the video counter part of Google. They’re owned by the same company anyway. So Here’ye! here’ye!

Sam and Audrey

Sam and Audrey are probably one of the few bloggers that I’ve followed through from their blogs and now with their vlogs in YouTube. The channel shows the married couple’s journey throughout the world. They use to teach English in South Korea before calling it quits and travel more of the globe!

Christian Le Blanc

Hailing from Canada, Christian left Canada to become an exchange student in Thailand where Laura, his girlfriend joined him March that same year. After graduating a few months later the Christian decided to travel Asia and started documenting his journey in YouTube. When his channel started picking up, Christian decided to quit his job and focus on his travel vlogs.

Aly (PsychoTraveller)

My go to vlog when I get bored. Aly just rambles a lot throughout her vlogs and I loooove it! Hahahaha. The thing that I like about Aly’s vlog is that she doesn’t just go from one place to another and just film then move one. Aly does it better, she lives in those countries for as long as she can! I love how she tries to immerse through the culture and learn more about the people. Oh, and yes she is totally funny!!!! Hahahaha!

 

Brendan Van son

My favorite travel vlogger of all! Brendan “Max” Van Son. I discovered this guy when one of his vlogs came up as one of the suggestions on YouTube. He was traveling the Philippines back then with the money he won from Las Vegas and has challenged him self to sustain his trip with only that money.

Why I like this guy much? Well more than a travel vlogger, Bredan primarily is a travel photographer. Basically living the life I want to live. Hahahaha! I actually didn’t knew that it is possible that somebody actually lives the life the I see my self living. I specially like his episode where he teaches people how to make it possible and how his finances as a travel photographer is doing via Mr. Jigglefoot – the income octopus.

So there you go. These are my Top Travel Vloggers You Should Follow this year. These are my personal favorites, so if your favorite travel vlogger isn’t on the list, tell us on the comment section so we can check them out. Who knows maybe I’d like them too!